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We had plenty of time to decide what we wanted. We were still young. And yet I couldn’t help but feel a type of disappointment that I’d never felt before: a sense that the future might not turn out exactly the way we pictured it.

I swear, Rachel said. You’re as gullible as Mom.A LITTLE MORE THAN NINE YEARS AGO

I graduated magna cum laude. I missed summa cum laude by a fraction, but Ryan kept telling me not to worry myself over it. I’m just graduating, he said. Not a single Latin word after it, and I’m going to be fine. So you’re going to be better than fine.I couldn’t argue about my prospects. I already had a job. I had accepted a position in the alumni department of UCLA. I wasn’t sure what I wanted to do with my psychology degree, but I figured it would come to me in due time. The alumni department seemed like an easy, reliable place to start out.On graduation day, Ryan and I were at opposite ends of the auditorium, so we only spoke in the morning and then made faces at each other during the ceremony. I spotted my mom in the audience with her huge camera, Rachel and Charlie next to her. Rachel was waving at me, giving me a thumbs-up. A few rows back, I saw Ryan’s parents and his sister.

As I sat there, waiting for the moment when they called my name, it occurred to me that this was the end of so many things, and more to the point, it was the beginning of my adult life.Ryan and I had rented a studio apartment in Hollywood. We were moving in the next week, on the first of the month. It was an ugly little thing, cramped and dark. But it would be ours.

The night before, Ryan and I had fought about what furniture to buy. He thought all we needed was a mattress on the floor. I figured that since we were adults, we should have a bed frame. Ryan thought all we needed were a few cardboard boxes for our clothes; I was insistent that we have dressers. It got heated. I said he was being cheap, that he didn’t understand how to be an adult. He said I was acting like a spoiled brat, expecting money to grow on trees. It got bad enough that I started crying; he got upset enough that his face turned red.

And then, before we knew it, we were at the part where we both admitted we were wrong and begged each other’s forgiveness with a passion unlike anything since the last time we’d fought. That was always the way it was with us. The I love yous and I’m sorrys, the I’ll never do that agains and the I don’t know what I’d do without yous always eclipsed the thing we were fighting about in the first place.Once Sheena is situated on a bar stool, I slip away, making an excuse to use the men's room. Instead I head straight for where Sophie and Kylie are talking across the room.

My brother's fiancé, Sophie Evans, looks great tonight. Long silky dress, jewels at her throat and her hair is twisted up in some type of knot. She looks happy."Hey, sis," I greet her with a kiss to the back of her hand.

I won't treat her any differently after her sister's passing, because I know she wouldn’t want it, but I do try to be sweet to her. After everything she's been through, she didn't break, and I'm so thankful. Colton needs a strong woman, and Sophie is the perfect complement to him. I don’t plan to settle down anytime soon, but one day I hope to find a girl as good as Sophie. I still think his story about how they met and why she’d moved in was bullshit, but it didn’t really matter. Colt was a lucky guy, and he knew it."Hi, Pace." Sophie grins up at me.